“Young people (millennials, Gen Z, etc) will be the key agents of change in corporate cultural and digital change.”
This mantra is quite common in today’s business circles, but I think it’s a big mistake.
It’s true that young people are digital natives who have grown up in a global world of fast-moving, on-going change. This is their natural habitat and platform for having good ideas about how to reinvent companies and create new goods and services. A world completely different from the one familiar to people born before 1980.
And yet I’ve met quite a few young people who don’t have a built-in digital mindset and increasing numbers of truly outstanding “super millennials” achieving great things in many fields, including very innovative and technological areas.
So what matters is not a person’s age, education or experience but a positive and learning attitude. This will be an advantage in the tough post-Covid landscape, which will also provide opportunities for those able to reinvent themselves.
Super millennials have four factors that characterise today’s effective, mature professionals: experience, exploration, success and employability.
- Experience to analyse today’s complex challenges thoroughly with the right mix of moderation and previous experience: invaluable ingredients for finding the best solutions.
- Exploration to embrace change, look into things, not cling to the past, face the future with self confidence, and learn and adapt quickly.
- Success based on the intelligent combination of new and old, digital and analogical, data and intuition, local and global. It has been proven that diversity and hybridisation contribute to a robust competitive edge and generate more sustainable innovation.
- Employability: The outcome of all the above factors and the market credibility generated by this winning combination.
Today’s fast-paced job market is increasingly demanding, raising understandable concerns about whether we will be competitive or be expelled from the market and find it difficult to adapt.
I see more and more super millennial professionals who focus on excitement rather than fear, who are realistic about their abilities but, rather than being defensive or negative, are determined to win. Who are not victims but regard themselves as protagonists of the future on their own merits. And so, in today’s backdrop bursting with technology, they aim to be benchmarks despite their pre-digital legacy.
To deal with this personal change, they will need plenty of self-confidence, courage, training and tenacity, and must, above all, be willing to ask for help and learn from more experienced people.
As a result, many companies have adopted reverse mentoring, a type of mentoring where young people share valuable experience with older professionals in areas such as digital transformation, innovation and new challenges in people management.
In return, the young professionals receive good advice on other aspects of management and their professional careers. This is a fine example of multi-generational, two-way enrichment that also enhances the workplace and commitment to work.
I’m optimistic about the job prospects of super millennials because it is increasingly clear that the world is more multigenerational and that we can all make a difference if we are keen to learn and contribute. It’s not a question of age but having a strong young-at-heart mindset.
This article has also been published in Do Better by ESADE